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Condusiv wants to defrag your SAN

Condusiv Technologies this week launched Diskeeper Server software to defrag disks connected to SANs.

Wait, is fragmentation even a thing for SANs? You never hear SAN vendors or even customers talk about it. What are all those RAID schemes and expensive SAN controllers for anyway?

Condusiv insists fragmentation is a problem at the logical disk layer, whether the SAN vendors admit it or not. And that fragmentation is impacting performance of applications on physical servers.

“We’ve expanded our fragmentation technology below local storage to include SAN storage,” said Brian Morin, Condusiv’s senior vice president of global marketing.

That means Condusiv is expanding its focus from desktop and laptop PCs to servers. Condusiv has been around for 33 years, but was known as Diskeeper until 2012. It claims to have sold 45 million licenses, but with the PC market shrinking and flash becoming popular, the company is targeting SANs as its new frontier.

It’s not defragging disks in SAN arrays, but preventing files from being broken into pieces before being written to hard disk drives or solid-state drives non-sequentially. That way, it prevents fragmentation before it becomes an issue.

Morin said Diskeeper Server can improve the way the Windows file system writes files to disk. “We monitor the system and see how data is being created,” he said. “Whenever a file is created or extended, Windows looks for a fixed size allocation because it doesn’t know how big the file is going to be. That causes extra I/O, or fragmentation. We give it the intelligence to say ‘This file is going to be this big.’ It finds the correct allocation and prevents that fragmentation from occurring in the first place.”

There can be a performance hit from the fragmentation prevention process, but Morin said that is less of a drag than the results of fragmented files.

“If Windows splits a file into 20 pieces, it’s writing 20 different I/O streams,” Morin said. “Windows sees that file as 20 separate pieces and issues I/O operations for every piece of that file. That’s a lot of I/O overhead to the physical server.”

Condusiv claims 73 percent of physical servers – about 2 million of them — are attached to SANs and fragmentation dampens their performance by 25 percent or more.

Diskeeper Server has a list price of $399.95 per server.